Dangerous Company

The Consulting Powerhouses and the Businesses They Save and Ruin

Charles M. Madigan, James O'Shea

Publisher: Times Business, 1997, 355 pages

ISBN: 0-8129-2634-X

Keywords: Consulting

Last modified: Aug. 7, 2007, 8:54 a.m.
  • A Fortune 500 company spends over $75 million on major consulting firms and is left on the edge of bankruptcy, with sales falling from $1.3 billion to $300 million.
  • A steel firm agrees to a consulting contract with a unique set of incentives: The more jobs the consultant eliminates, the more the consultant is paid. The fewer the jobs that are eliminated, the more the consultant pays the company.
  • A consultant provides inside information to turn state's evidence in a trial, landing the consultant's former client behind bars.
  • One of the largest companies in the world pays over half a billion dollars to consultants and seems as confused today as ever.

Dangerous Company is the never-before-told story of the powerful and secretive consulting elite, firms such as McKinsey & Company, Bain, the Boston Consulting Group, Andersen Consulting, Deloitte Touche, Gemini, and many others. Based on sources within the firms themselves, interviews with key clients, and access to now-sealed court records, the book provides the inside story that consultants would prefer you not know about. James O'Shea and Charles Madigan tell you about conspiracies at the top, bone-headed assumptions, as well as brilliant performances. While Dangerous Company reveals the underside of consulting, it also looks at many success stories:

  • How a consulting firm helped a pharmaceutical company develop a strategy for marketing instruments that enable diabetics to manage their disease. Not only has the product been profitable, it has greatly improved the lives of millions of people.
  • How Sears got turned around. Arthur Martinez's sophisticated and limited use of consultants is a model for how companies should work with consultants in the future.
  • How small, highly focused consulting firms are providing cost-effective, targeted advice to companies and mounting a significant challenge to the big consulting powerhouses.

Tough, fair, and thoroughly researched, Dangerous Company is for anyone who wants to understand how the world of business really works. It will also force a rethinking by management about the implications of a decision to bring in consultants. Nothing less than the jobs of thousands of employees, millions of dollars of shareholder investment, and long-term relationships with customer are at stake.

  1. The Price of Advice
    • What Does a Half-Billion Dollars of Consulting Buy?
  2. The Few, the Proud, the Totally Insane
    • How Consultants Ran Amok at Figgie International
  3. The Jobs Elimination Festival
    • How Andersen Consulting moved into the Big Leagues
  4. Taming "The Monster of the Midway"
    • The Rise, the Fall, and Rise Again of Sears
  5. "A Medicine Man in a Room Full of Funeral Directors"
    • How Boston Consulting Group Packages and Peddles Ideas
  6. Trying to Make Gold from Lead
    • Gemini and the Transformation Fad
  7. Too Close for Comfort
    • Inside the Secret, Influential World of Bain & Co.
  8. The Gold Boys' Network
    • Power and Glory at McKinsey
  9. Keeping Dangerous Company
    • Caveat Emptor


Dangerous Company

Reviewed by Roland Buresund

Bad ** (2 out of 10)

Last modified: Aug. 2, 2007, 3:21 p.m.

A story about how the management consulting companies really behave, or rather, so would the authors like you to think. The book is biased, prejudiced,and makes some very strange conclusions, which only can seem reasonable if you've never worked at higher than supervisor roles in a larger company. Sure there is a lot of truth in mismanagement of clients by consulting companies, but these stories are so grossly exagerated, that it doesn't make sense. This seen already in the first chapter, when the authors are indignant and implies that the consulting firms that doesn't disclose exactly what they have done at a customer to an outside reporter, is suspect of wrong-doing! Hey, all reporters that doesn't make a full disclosure about their sources, must be suspect as well (morons)!

It is mildly amusing, but a bit dry.


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